Sox GM Hahn quietly filling some roster spots
When he was on the job from 2001-12, Kenny Williams was deservedly recognized as one of the most aggressive general managers in baseball.
In May 2009, Williams was at the wheel again — but his idea for a blockbuster deal almost killed White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
Williams called Reinsdorf, who was in New York on business, and laid out a plan to acquire starting pitcher Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres in exchange for four prospects.
On foot when getting the call from Williams, Reinsdorf later said the news was so stunning he nearly slipped off the curb and walked into traffic.
The initial deal fell through when Peavy invoked his no-trade clause, but Williams kept on pushing and acquired the Cy Young Award winner two months later.
Suffice to say, new Sox GM Rick Hahn isn't going to be as pushy as Williams, who was bumped up to president of baseball operations Oct. 26.
Hahn isn't going to plead with Reinsdorf to check under his couch cushions for loose change to add an expensive player, as Williams used to jokingly relate.
It's still way too early to judge Hahn as general manager, but he's quietly filled some holes as the White Sox prepare for their April 1 season opener against the Royals.
In his first official week as GM, Hahn pulled Peavy off the free-agent market with a two-year contract and picked up the 2013 option on starter Gavin Floyd.
He also signed free-agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, who is likely to start at third base for the Sox.
Hahn also signed a veteran relief pitcher, Matt Lindstrom, and he might have uncovered a gem on Feb. 22 while acquiring third baseman Conor Gillaspie in a trade from the San Francisco Giants.
A left-handed hitter, which is still a big need for the White Sox, Gillaspie is making a strong push to break camp on the 25-man roster.
In his first five exhibition games with the Sox, the 25-year-old Gillaspie was batting .300 (3-for-10) with 1 home run and 6 RBI.
"He conceivably fits in nicely on the roster, which we'll obviously decide more about toward the end of (March)," Hahn told reporters in Glendale, Ariz., after landing Gillaspie in a trade for minor-league pitcher Jeff Soptic. "We see him having a solid hit tool, above-average awareness of the strike zone, solid defensively. He gives us a little versatility in his ability to play third base as well as first."
Throughout the off-season, Hahn heard all of the demands for another left-handed bat or two. Respectfully, he turned a deaf ear.
"I'm a fan, we all are," Hahn said before spring training. "But although we do tilt too heavily to the right side on paper, we're not going to go out and get a left-handed bat simply because it's going to make me look good to address a perceived need."
As the upcoming season unfolds, Hahn said he'll have a much better handle on what the White Sox' strengths and weaknesses are.
And — much like Williams — Hahn said he won't hesitate to approach Reinsdorf if a potential addition threatens to bloat the payroll.
Last season, even with poor attendance, Williams got the OK to add third baseman Kevin Youkilis, relief pitcher Brett Myers and starter Francisco Liriano.
"Based on history, there's not been an instance during any season where we've been in the mix where we've gone to Jerry and said, 'This guy is available. He addresses a need. Here's what it's going to cost,' that he hasn't found a way to make it work," Hahn said. "The money is usually there when we need to talk."
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